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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 17.39%
Average: 13.04%
Pretty Bad: 30.43%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Mute Witness
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by Chris Parry

"Like everything made in Russia: looks cheap, sometimes works."
2 stars

Anthony Waller’s Russian thriller Mute Witness is an odd bird. At times it’s every bit as action-packed and tight as the best of Hollywood, but at other times it’s completely laughable, throwing one improbability at you after another. Lead actress Marina Zudina plays Billy, a mute movie make-up artist working on a slasher film in Russia when she stumbles across a snuff flick. The snuffers can’t have a witness wandering around, and so it goes that we have an hour of back and forth chase scenes where Billy plays hide and seek with the killers while the cops shrug and ignore her claims.

Made in Russia supposedly due to cheaper labor and production costs, Mute Witness suffers only from an underdone script and weak production values. What starts out as an honestly intriguing chase soon turns into a film filled with so many McGuffins that Hitchcock himself would have spun in his grave and yelled “gimme a break.” Whenever you’re sure someone is dead, someone appears or something happens and the roles are reversed. Whenever the bad guys have the upper hand you can almost count down to when someone will walk in out of nowhere and save the day.

In fact, toward the last act, when the police appear but seem to be in league with the killers, it’s almost like you’re watching The Benny Hill show or a Marx Brothers movie. Characters walk in and out of rooms, appearing and disappearing, getting in trouble and being a hero all at the same time. Perhaps director Anthony Waller had his tongue firmly placed within his cheek, but you’d never know it by looking at the finished result.

Waller certainly made the best he could with limited resources, even filming a handful of scenes with Sir Alec Guinness nine years earlier and splicing them into this film when he needed them. Guinness’ appearance was about the only selling point this production has, as the entire cast is either unknown Russian actors or unknown American actors (and they’re unknown for a good reason, let me assure you). Guiness, credited as Mystery Guest Star, doesn’t exactly set the world alight, but then he’s only in the thing for about four seconds. The rest of the time Waller pulls an Ed Wood and keeps the mysterious figure in shadow, trying to stretch that Sir Alec Guinness name as far as a few hours of work will go.

As the director of the on-screen movie shoot, Evan Richards (who you might recall as Max the weird video-camera-wielding son in Down and Out in Beverly Hills) sucks the most heinous ass. Incompetent has a home in Evan Richards, especially when it comes to this movie. He’s so bad you’ll cringe. Often. On the other hand, Russian actress Marina Zudina is fantastic in the lead role, to her undying credit, managing to get as much as she can out of a character with absolutely no lines at all. The fact that she’s mute opens up a slew of opportunities for this film to quietly creep up on you, but whereas Zudina is sleek and skilful, Waller is not, having his camera blunder about when it should be allowed to sit. In fact, Waller attempts to get all artsy during some of the chase scenes and only manages to look pretentious in the process. Waller’s follow-up to this, An American Werewolf in Paris, suffers the same ill fate, so it’s pretty clear that though the guy wants to be a gourmet chef, all he has in the pantry is Rice-A-Roni.

A little fun, a little lame and mostly silly, Mute Witness is a flick where you can answer the phone without hitting pause and not miss anything. Mute chick chased by killers - sub-plots not required.

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originally posted: 09/20/02 07:51:29
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User Comments

1/28/08 Jiplieo I thought Marina was hot. + A good movie in general 5 stars
11/01/06 Clint A pleasant (if that's the word) surprise! 4 stars
1/17/06 vinoi great!!! 5 stars
12/06/05 tatum Starts well, but gets more unbelievable as it goes 3 stars
5/17/04 Eve It's bad!!! 2 stars
11/29/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Good plotline, but made at TV movie calibre. 3 stars
9/29/03 James Robinson well directed, beautiful to look at,fun 4 stars
3/09/03 Jack Sommersby A neat, taut, imaginative thriller. 4 stars
10/08/02 Andrew shag marina zudina to death!! she's hot stuff, nice arse and tits. where can i get naked 5 stars
10/07/02 atarian Decent film with some nicely done comedy moments. Fay Ripley is British, not American. 4 stars
9/20/02 Buddha Has it's moments. 3 stars
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  15-Sep-1995 (R)
  DVD: 26-Aug-2003


  15-Sep-1995 (MA)

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